THE fastest growing brand of Australian cricket will return to the region next week as the NSW Over 60 Regional Championships get underway in Armidale.
Eight sides and 130 players from around the state, including two from Tamworth who hosted the tournament last year, will battle it out over four days of cricket, culminating in the final on Friday.
In the tournaments fourth year the eight sides have been split into two pools to play in a round robin, and for the first year ever a Lismore based side has entered.
Armidale and Mid North Coast have entered as separate entities after previously playing as a combine team, and Armidale will also boast a team consisting of former UNE students, although most are not from Armidale.
Chairman of the Armidale and District over 60’s cricket committee Graeme Andrews is excited to see the veterans sport going from strength to strength.
“It’s an expanding brand of cricket with more players involved every year,” Andrews said.
“Western Australia has joined this year in the national championships which means every state and territory is represented in the brand.”
Unlike previous years this years carnival will not act as a selection trial for the NSW side to play in the National Championships.
The Nationals have already been played this year with NSW winning first grade and getting runner up in both seconds and thirds.
“Next year the regional championships will return to a NSW trial, although there are some state and national players playing in the regionals,” Andrews said.
Former test spinner Bob “Dutchy” Holland will once again take part, this year for the Newcastle side, and there are also several former and present over 60 representatives.
Tamworth’s Albie Barwick and Bob Haling along with Quirindi’s Dennis Moran all represented Australia against England last year.
This year the Australian side will be touring South Africa with another local face in the side in Quirindi’s Greg Tidiman, John O’Shaughnessy from Port Macquarie will also tour with Australia as well as grace the pitches in Armidale next week.
The Regional Championships will kick off with a meet and greet tomorrow night at the Armidale Bowling Club, which will also host the finals dinner on Thursday night with special guest academic Jeremy Smith.
Smith will address the audience about his expeditions and time as a station master in Antarctica as well as his other philanthropic adventures.
The championships will be played at the Armidale Sports Ground, Lambert Park, Harris Park, and Rologas Oval, with all teams playing a 40 over game each day, with a rest day on Wednesday.
Tamworth will be entering two sides in the tournament, Gold and Blue.
A trial game and hit out was held last Sunday with the boys showing some good form with both bat and ball, especially newcomer Rod Kahler who was allegedly unplayable off a long run up.
The teams are on opposite sides of the draw and are hoping to meet each other again in the final on Friday.